Fall armyworm a serious threat to Sub-Sarahan African food security in 2018
By LaRon Beemer
The fall armyworm feeds on more than 80 different crops including maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane, vegetables, and cotton. Within maize, a key food staple in sub-Sarahan Africa, the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI) estimates that the pest could cause losses in 12 key Africa countries of 8.3 million to 20.6 million metric tons of maize annually, seriously threatening the food supply for up to 100 million people in those 12 countries alone.
The latest monthly update from USAID shows that FAW continues to be a problem to maize and other crops in southern and eastern Africa:
In Ethiopia, the pest had infested in 13% of the maize fields planted as of late March 2018, with only 40% of the infested fields receiving some form of chemical treatment or cultural means. In the 2017 cropping season, FAW infested more than 24% of the 2.9 million hectares planted to maize, with a total loss of more than 134,000 tons of crop worth almost $30 million. This outbreak has affected millions of smallholders across the country and prompted the Government of Ethiopia to prioritize implementation of the 2018 FAW work plan.
In South Sudan, FAW was detected in early planted maize crops in Western Equatorial State during late March 2018, with the pest expected to continue appearing over vast areas of the country as planting progresses.